Sickle Cell Anemia
Sickle cell anemia is an inherited blood disorder, identified by the sickle shape of red blood cells which carry less oxygen and break easily, causing anemia. The sickling trait, the less serious form, occurs from the inheritance of only one parent; however, both parents must exhibit the disease in order for full symptoms to take place. It is caused by an error in the gene that tells the body how to make hemoglobin. The disorder is usually found in people of African descent because the gene mutation that occurred thousands of years ago in parts of Africa. A simple blood test can be performed to detect whether or not there’s sickle hemoglobin. That’s why babies are required to be tested upon entering into the world. Some symptoms of sickle cell involve fatigue, paleness, and shortness of breath due to anemia of the red blood cells.
Unpredictable pain throughout the body due to blockage by sickled shape red blood cells, loss of sight, jaundice of the skin and eyes, delayed growth and puberty, and increase risk of stroke from increased blood clots of sickle shaped red blood cells are other factors that may occur as a result of the disease. Although there is no available cure for sickle cell, certain treatments can help alleviate some of the pain. Bone marrow transplants or blood transfusions may help some individuals as research is still being done for other methods of treatment. Other methods to relieve mild pain may be over the counter pain medicines, rest, and plenty of fluids. Hydroxyurea is a prescription drug used to treat sickle cell anemia by aiding in the production of fetal hemoglobin, which helps the red blood cells from sickling. Since sickle cell anemia is an inherited disease, if a person is born with it he/she may only take steps on reducing its complications. Some ways to ease the process are to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Follow a diet that consists of plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low in saturated/trans fat. Folic acid is a vitamin which aids in the production of new red blood cells. Drinking plenty of water prevents the body from being dehydrated. Getting plenty of sleep and rest will also help living with sickle cell. Other methods involve avoiding decongestants, which can tighten the blood vessels making it hard for red blood cells to move smoothly, avoiding extreme heat/cold weather when dealing with the different seasons, dress appropriate. Get flu shots and other vaccines to prevent infections. Get regular checkups to ensure everything is functioning correctly.
Remember that every person deals with stress levels differently. Joining a support group may help with living and dealing with sickle cell anemia. Researchers are continually working on ways treat and prolong the life expectancy for those with sickle cell anemia. Some recent developments are partial chimerism which consists of bone marrow of patient and donor to come together and form new blood cells while not destroying the patient’s bone marrow and allow more people to be eligible for the transplant. Cord blood stem cell transplant is another option that would allow patients an alternative if they do not have family that is a match and gene cell therapy would allow a patient to be injected with a gene that would eliminate the red blood cells from sickling.
American Sickle Cell Anemia Association. (2010). Retrieved May 26, 2011, from www.ascaa.org
National Heart and Lung Blood Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved May 29, 2011, from www.nhlbi.nih.gov
Scott, S. A., & Fong, E. (2004). Body Structures & Functions. New York: Delmar Cengage Learning.
Serrill, C. (2004). Adapted Physical Activity, Recreation, and Sport. McGrawHill .
References: American Sickle Cell Anemia Association. (2010). Retrieved May 26, 2011, from www.ascaa.org National Heart and Lung Blood Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved May 29, 2011, from www.nhlbi.nih.gov Scott, S. A., & Fong, E. (2004). Body Structures & Functions. New York: Delmar Cengage Learning. Serrill, C. (2004). Adapted Physical Activity, Recreation, and Sport. McGrawHill .